Monday 22 Apr 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (March 1): Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and former 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) president Arul Kanda Kandasamy will know on Friday (March 3) whether the High Court here will order them to enter their defence or acquit them in the 1MDB audit report tampering trial.

Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan, now elevated to the Court of Appeal, is expected to deliver his verdict on the duo and also decide whether Arul Kanda’s testimony in the trial against Najib was sufficient for him to be given a certificate of indemnity, as he faces a charge of abetting the ex-PM in abuse of power with regard to 1MDB’s audit report.

Arul Kanda had taken the witness stand for two days on Aug 25, where he was questioned by the late Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram.

Arul Kanda had testified under Section 63 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 (MACC Act), which allows an accused person to testify as a witness for the prosecution.

Former 1MDB president Arul Kanda Kandasamy. (The Edge filepix by Zahid Izzani)

Najib, 69, is facing an abuse of power charge as a public officer in his capacity as then prime minister and finance minister in altering the 1MDB audit report which was to be tabled to the Public Accounts Committee in 2016. This was so that no action could be taken against him by Parliament.

Among items removed included fugitive financier Low Taek Jho’s presence at 1MDB board meetings, and portions of 1MDB’s 2014 financial statements.

The former premier’s charge is framed under Section 23(1) of the MACC Act. If convicted, Najib stands to face a maximum of 20 years’ jail, and a minimum fine of RM10,000 or five times the amount of such gratification, whichever is higher.

Arul Kanda is charged with abetting the former premier. Arul Kanda had testified last August after Zaini ruled that the former president and 1MDB managing director could testify, following objections by Najib’s defence team.

Besides Arul Kanda, other prominent 17 prosecution witnesses who had testified included former chief secretary to the government, the late Tan Sri Ali Hamsa; former auditors general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang and Tan Sri Madinah Mohamad, and former 1MDB chairman Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh.

Currently, Najib is serving his 12-year jail term and a RM210 million fine sentence with regard to 1MDB’s former subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd, after the Federal Court had upheld the decision of the High Court and Court of Appeal to convict him.

Should Najib be asked to enter his defence, this would be the second case after SRC wherein he has been ordered to do so.

Besides this, Najib is currently on trial for the 1MDB-Tanore case, wherein he faces four charges of abuse of power and 21 money laundering charges of RM2.28 billion, as well as the second SRC case involving money laundering of another RM27 million and six counts of US$6.6 billion criminal breach of trust of 1MDB funds to International Petroleum Investment Corporation (IPIC).

Earlier this week, however, the government announced that Abu Dhabi had agreed to pay Malaysia US$1.8 billion as part of 1MDB’s, and IPIC’s and its subsidiary Aabar Investments PJS (Aabar PJS)’s settlement.

Edited ByLam Jian Wyn
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